Eat interesting

May 5, 2011

Eat healthy. Eat local. How about eat interesting?

Our fifth Kansas Farm Bureau Masters class was an exploration of Stafford County, Kan., and the stories behind locally grown food.

Stafford County is “a flat county punctuated with grass-covered sand dunes once labeled the Great American Desert,” says the official website. The site also says the county is like a treasure hunt. It’s true.

How about this find: Stafford County Flour Mills Co., one of the last remaining independent flour mills in the U.S.  The mill is in Hudson, population: 125. The company is 105 years old and its signature flour is Hudson Cream:

“Hudson Cream flour is made using a ‘short patent’ milling process, a method that was much more common a century ago than today. The difference is that in short patent milling the wheat is ground more times and sifted with finer-meshed sieves than in standard milling. Also, the short patent process sifts away more by-product, leaving only the heart of the wheat kernel to make Hudson Cream flour. The result is a flour that is smoother in produces baked goods that are consistently light and fluffy.”

What’s even better, wheat for the flour comes from grain elevators in Stafford County and nearby Reno County. Local wheat, local flour. I’ve walked past the flour bags in my grocery store. No more. I have two bags in my pantry right now. (You can order online here: http://www.hudsoncream.com/product.taf.)

Here’s another interesting Stafford County food find: 4 Star Hydroponics. This family business grows hydroponic tomatoes in St. John. Jarrod Taylor, son of founder, Rita Taylor, says they went to many, many farmer’s markets when they started. They offered samples to disprove the notion that hydroponic tomatoes don’t have flavor. The business has grown and prospered, now supplying grocery chains, restaurants and distributors. 

Here’s a good story on 4 Star: http://www.freshplaza.com/2006/03jan/2_us_hothouse-tomatoes.htm.

Their operation yields about 2,000 pounds a week this time of year. On one record day, they picked 8,000 pounds of tomatoes. Jarrod shares details here about the mechanics of hydroponic tomatoes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYHRPJ2YoyE.

I brought home some of his tomatoes. My son eats them like apples. Jarrod was right. They were delicious.

It was a good day of healthy, local and interesting food.

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